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Friday, 13 January 2012

Bangor: Paolo Ammassari interview.


In the summer of 2011, a fascinating bit of home movie footage appeared on YouTube. It shows the Beatles in the kitchen/dining room of their accomodation at Bangor, during the August Bank Holiday weekend in 1967 which, o' course, culminated in the news of Brian Epstein's demise.
As both the film and the above still reveal, Paolo Ammassari, from Italy, was there too, witness to a key moment in the story. T'internet being what it is, our paths crossed the other day, and Paolo was kind enough to answer a few questions...

KENWOODLENNON: Please introduce yourself! What's your background?

PAOLO AMMASSARI: Long story. Degree in Engineering. Once CEO in one of the Costa Smeralda Companies (the most important touristic European development). Town Planner & Architectural Engineering. At that time (1967) I was 29.

KL: Why were you in Bangor that August weekend in 1967?

PA: I came from Denmark, driving a German car, with other two friends: Ulla and Fabio Posada, with the purpose to join Maharishi in Bangor for a course in meditation. I started TM in 1964 and in these times I followed Him in all His steps in Europe.

KL: I believe you were designated driver for Maharishi in Bangor. How did you get the “job”?

PA: I knew Him since 1964 when I started Meditation. Because of the joy of His lectures and the happiness He was radiating I followed Him all summers He spent in Europe. So I think I earned some trust from Him.

KL: Various photos/film show you as very much part of the "inner sanctum" that weekend (ie with the Beatles in the kitchen that they used as a base of operations, in the Maharishi's room etc). How did you meet them, and how did you gain such access to them?

PA: It was really by chance, not programmed. I drove the Maharishi's car, as I told you, and I don’t remember if on the same day (as the film), or the day before, I drove the car with Maharishi (on my right hand – the car was German, I suppose) and the Four all in the back. Fantastic ! I hoped some picture was taken of that car with all those folk inside but I didn’t find any. There was also one other occasion when I drove Maharishi. Once He arrived by airplane to Rome after midnight. I went to pick Him up at the Fiumicino airport, with my sports car, and I brought Him to the hotel, where He gave some lectures and press interviews. It was strange to see a sports car with open roof with a white dressed Maharishi’s long hair and beard in the wind, in a night of June !


KL: Can you remember any specific conversations with any of them from that time?

PA: During the meeting in the small dining room of the college, with John we spoke about two points: Nazca land drawings (strange isn’t it), and about the possibility of some degree of spirituality not linked to religions. Some years later I heard “Imagine” !!!!

KL: How did the other people there for the Maharishi's talks regard the presence of the Beatles?

PA: One word - enthusiasm. Maybe too much, and I was a little worried about it. During the lecture (there are pictures of it in b&w) the hall was crowded and a few people (I remember, among others, a young man with very sincere eyes) had some questions to forward in a very sympathetic, respectful and, I can say, in an unexpected sweet way. Maharishi spoke about the way in which Transcendental Meditation drives the familiarity of the meditator to states of Transcendental Consciousness and, with the regular practice of it, to an establishment of deep Cosmic Consciousness. The audience was absolutely fascinated by the Maharishi's speech.

KL: You've no doubt seen the footage of the lecture you're talking about:



The Beatles were, fairly obviously, on the stage. What part did they play in the lecture? Did they speak at any point? Were any questions directed towards them, and if so, what?

PA: Yes I saw that film. I was there but in the back row on the right side of Maharishi, and not found in the pictures. The Beatles didn't speak, they were just listening with pleasure and attention. The audience was focused on Maharishi's speech, but the presence of the Four was giving an exceptional atmosphere of charm and joy.

KL: Do you recall anything about the news of Brian's death?

PA: Yes, they were deeply concerned at the news. They went to Maharishi and the farewell was quiet and sad.

KL: Did you subsequently keep in contact with any of them?

PA: No.

KL: Do you have any photos relating to any of the above?

PA: Unfortunately not. As I told you, many pictures were taken during the short drive from the lecture hall and the college, but I haven’t seen any. I would be pleased if you are able to find some.

KL: Many thanks to Paolo, and if anyone has, or comes across, any pictures of those car journeys with Paolo in the driver's seat, then please get in touch.

7 comments:

  1. Nice interview. He speaks amiably of the Four despite their incident in India in 68 with He.(which does appear to be an Alex M. lie?)with He.

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    1. Really getting some mileage out of that capital H.

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  2. OK smartarses, let's see you do an interview in Italian.

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    1. No offense intended squire, it's perfectly understandable, just having a wee muck about (as i presumed You were too) over the Maharishi's supposed divinity. Yours, Arthur Sultan.

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  3. Paolo did ask me to correct his English, as he said it was very rusty, but I didn't do it because I think he's perfectly understandable, it's his own "voice", and I assumed (wrongly, it seems) that people would make allowances.

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  4. Thank you for posting your interview with him :)

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